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Comoros on the Verge of Joining EAC, Says Envoy

The Comoros government has said it will make overtures to join the East African Community (EAC) as the archipelago seeks to extend bilateral economic ties and co-operation with the region.

EAC member countries flags.

Despite the EAC Secretariat confirming to media that it has neither received a formal or informal request from the Comoros government of its intention to join the Community.

Dr. Ahamada El-Badaoui Mohamed, the Comoro Ambassador to Tanzania, told the press in an interview that the Comoros feels closer to the East African countries than other neighbours and the process to join the bloc would start soon.

Comoros Flag.

Although he couldn’t say the process would begin, Dr. Mohamed, who was in 2014 appointed the first ambassador to Tanzania since the Comoros gained its independence 40 years ago, said the islands have already applied for Southern African Development Community (SADC) membership and the government was preparing to start the application process to join the EAC.

“Comoros geographical location makes it nearer to almost all the East African countries than other countries and we believe that we stand to gain more from being part of the bloc,” the ambassador said.

However, Owora Richard Othieno, the EAC Communication Chief told the press that the EAC Secretariat has not received any communication, official on non-official, from the Republic of Comoros on its intention to join the Community.

“For Comoro to get admitted into the Community, it must meet those criteria as spelt out in the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community,”

Mr Othieno said. Article 3 of the Treaty explains how membership of the Community is granted and partner States may, upon such terms and in such manner as they may determine, together negotiate with that or any foreign country the granting of membership to, or association of that country with, the Community or its participation in any of the activities of the Community.

As part of the process, Ambassador Mohamed said that Comoro opened its first embassy in East Africa in Tanzania and would open more embassies in other EAC countries in the near future.

Being francophone islands, the ambassador said drastic measures have been taken such as signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Zanzibar to teach Comorians Kiswahili and English.

Faraja Ngwabati, a regional trade official, said that approximately 500 Comorians come to Tanzania each month to learn English, buy food stuff and get medical services.

He however said that there is a huge potential for East African businesses to trade with the Comoros than is being done currently.

“There is a big potential for East Africa businesses to conduct major business with their Comorians counterparts; not the pretty trade that has for years characterised the partnership between Tanzania and Comoros,” Mr Ngwabati said.

By Robert Muriisa.

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